You like the rain. Of course you do, you grew up here in the Northwest. You never used an umbrella, not once. Instead you let your windbreaker get soaked and stick to your skin like kelp. You knew it wasn’t water proof. It wasn’t even windproof. Your backpack was like a sponge. Your books got soaked. They turned into pulpy mush on the walks home. You didn’t care. You’d turn in your ink-smeared homework just like the rest of the kids. You would not use an umbrella.
Some people talk about snow, but you don’t know much about that. Snow belongs on mountains, and in the Midwest, where people eat corn and die without really living. You like the rain. You don’t have to shovel the rain. You don’t have to worry about driving in the rain. In fact, you like driving in the rain, or rather, you like being in the car. You like watching the tiny waterfalls dribbling down the passenger window as you press your head against the cold glass, watching your breath materialize in ghost white wisps of fog and reminding you that you’re alive.
Your favorite place to go to when it’s raining is the small covered area in the woods, the one with the metal roof that makes a beautiful, chaotic, and sometimes meditative melody. It’s because the rain is falling from the sky but also from the fir needles. The drops gather mass as they roll along the green spines and collide with the roof, some big some small, like an orchestra pit filled with heterogeneous horns and drums. You kissed a girl there once. She had freckles the color of bark, and damp hair that smelled like the forest. Her lips were chilled, like your hands, but soft. She liked the rain too.
When its summer and you’re lying outside in the hot, prickly grass, you find yourself wishing it would rain. Not the grey downpours of December, but something quaint, a sudden shower that the sun beams dance through, making the world seem magic and unpredictable. You see the rain where others don’t. In the teal, frigid rivers, the rock-nested creeks, and in the greenery, the canopy, the sky.
You try to teach your son about the rain. He’s wearing a poncho and trying not to trip in his yellow rubber boots. He jumps in a puddle and his pants get soaked. He feels betrayed by the rain. You carry him home in your arms so he doesn’t have to walk in soggy socks. You take him to the beach in January. You emerge from the coastal range into a gun metal mist. No one is there. The beach is all yours. The rain gives you solitude. Your son runs along the wet, hard sand like he’ll never stop, until he does, and you both stare out at the ocean as the rain becomes the sea. How poignant, you think.
Rain builds character, you say. Rain makes life. Rain is who we are.
He doesn’t quite get that last part yet, but he will.
As the years pass, he’ll get it.
S.R. Schulz is a physician living in Portland, Oregon. He is the father of three boys and two dogs. His work can be seen at Maudlin House, Litro, Train, Minnesota Medicine, Ghost Parachute and others. He sometimes writes thoughts about books he reads at www.srschulzwriting.com and tweets really cool and never dull and super interesting things at @SRschulzwriting.
Photo by: Ana Prundaru